MANILA, Philippines -- Alaska head coach Alex Compton has no qualms about sacrificing speed for smarts, and athleticism for skill when he tapped Chris Daniels as their import for the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
At 35, Daniels is the oldest reinforcement in the PBA this conference but he was quick to impress on Sunday, when the Aces defeated Columbian Dyip, 111-98, to open their campaign. He had 25 points, making 11 of his 16 shots, while grabbing 16 rebounds in the comfortable win.
Afterward, Compton sang praises of Daniels, who has had stints in the NBA D-League, as well as in China and Korea during a well-traveled basketball career.
"He's like a coach. He's one of the smartest guys that I've been around," Compton said of Daniels ."He thinks like a coach, as a player."
"And when you have a guy like that, that knows how to win? He had 21 points in the first half, he doesn't care about scoring. If it's his turn, it's his turn. If it's not his turn, it's not his turn. He's gonna read the defense and get the team the best shot," he added.
When asked if he was concerned about having the oldest import, Compton just shrugged. He acknowledged that Daniels isn't the most explosive or the speediest player, but his skill set more than made up for that.
Moreover, in Daniels they have a "high character" guy, according to Compton. Despite his experience and long years of playing basketball abroad, the import had no complaints when made to run by the Alaska coach in practice.
"He says, 'Yes sir,' and he does it. You know you have an incredibly high-character guy. So he's high character, he's very skilled, he's very smart," said Compton.
"So you get the guy that's got great character, is really smart and really skilled, you'll sacrifice a little athleticism for a lot of brain, a lot of character," he also said. "Yeah, he's probably not gonna beat Usain Bolt in any races soon, but he knows how to play."
Daniels, for his part, was gratified by his coach's words but stressed that even an import of his experience "still (has) a lot to learn" -- especially when it comes to playing in the PBA.
"While I'm on the floor, I'm going to help my guys anyway I possibly can," he said. "If I see something that's going to help them and help our team, I'm going to say something about it."
After his first game, Daniels gave his offense a thumbs up but felt he needed to do better on defense. His counterpart in Columbian Dyip, Kyle Barone, scored 30 points -- 17 of which came in the fourth quarter of the game.
"If I can stop my man from scoring anywhere in the 20s to 30s, then we got a great chance at winning," said Daniels.
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